Amy O'Connor goal for champions Seandún sees off the Barrs

Sarsfields stand in the way of the divisional side retaining their camogie title in two weeks after a late penalty save by Amy Lee prevents the Barrs from forcing a replay.
Amy O'Connor goal for champions Seandún sees off the Barrs

Amy O'Connor, Seandún, battles against St Finbarr's in SE Systems Senior Camogie Championship semi-final. Picture: Larry Cummins

Seandún 1-9 St Finbarr’s 0-9

A brilliantly saved penalty on 60 minutes by Amy Lee prevented this thrilling SE Systems senior championship semi-final going to a replay in the second of the double-header in Éire Óg on Sunday afternoon. 

It was St Finbarr's second penalty, one point the return and while one might have questioned the Barrs decision to hit their first over the bar, you imagine they took the Amy Lee factor into account for that one.

 A late penalty by Keeva McCarthy for St Finbarr's is stopped by gaolkeeper Amy Lee. Picture: Larry Cummins
A late penalty by Keeva McCarthy for St Finbarr's is stopped by gaolkeeper Amy Lee. Picture: Larry Cummins

A tactical battle this was always going to be. As predicted, St Finbarr's played four, often three inside the opposing ’45 as they went into defensive mode. 

Trying to capitalise on the pace of Orlaith Cahalane and Nicole Olden, and minimise the threat of Amy O’Connor, it was a tactic the Barrs maintained for the full game, even when chasing it, and it cost them.

But huge credit must go to a divisional side, who had to line out without the important Roisín de Faoite at centre-back after she was injured in the Blackrock V Na Piarsaigh Intermediate championship semi-final on Saturday. 

How those nine on-field players dug deep in an energy-sapping game is testament to the bond that now exists in this divisional side.

This was a low-scoring game, tension and downpours of rain, the primary factors.

St Finbarr's looked very dangerous in those opening minutes and were creating problems with that space up front. 

But Seandún weathered the storm and that was important for them as tactics settled. It was two points apiece twelve minutes in. 

 Joy for Seandún.  Picture: Larry Cummins
Joy for Seandún.  Picture: Larry Cummins

Amy O’Connor, again for the most part double marked, sat in wait like a crouching tiger on the edge of the square and needed just one chance.

It came on sixteen minutes. Amy Lee to Nicole Crean to O’Connor and what skill to finish. 

That goal kept Seandún’s noses in front right to the finish. Keeva McCarthy replied with a free five minutes later. 

O’Connor pointed again before three further frees for O’Connor (2) and McCarthy had it at 1-5 to 0-5 at the break.

Three minutes into the second half and the Barrs won their first penalty. Orlaith Cahalane took her point. 

Another Cahalane free and the gap was just one on forty minutes. You couldn’t take your eye off the action. 

It looked for a part as if Seandún were flagging around the middle as the Barrs defensively drove ball forward. 

But Seandun’s composure defensively was excellent, and they came back to life. Holding just one spare defender they pushed up on the Barrs midfield and defence. 

Space was at a minimum in that area, but Seandún were coping when ball got through and all they needed to do was keep the score ticking over. Easier said than done and testament to the rigidity of this game, no second half score came from play. 

It was point for point. On three occasions the Barrs had the gap down to a point, but they never got level. An O’Connor and Katlyn Hickey converted free, and the gap was three again on fifty-seven. As the clock ticked down the Barrs needed a goal. 

 Orlaith Cahalane in action for St Finbarr's. Picture: Larry Cummins
Orlaith Cahalane in action for St Finbarr's. Picture: Larry Cummins

They threw everything at it, but Seandún were resilient. Trying not to give away frees was crucial. They conceded another penalty. 

An outstanding save by Lee. Out for a forty-five. Another chance for the Barrs. They opted to hit it up the line. 

A run-on goal, a massive ruckus before Seandún won a free out. They jumped for joy; this was a big one. 

A minute later the final whistle.

Scorers for Seandún: A O’Connor 1-5 (0-4 f), H Ryan, L Homan (f), N Crean (f), K Hickey (f) 0-1 each.

St Finbarr's: O Cahalane 0-5 (0-3 f, 0-1 pen), K McCarthy 0-3 f, N Olden 0-1 

SEANDÚN: A Lee (Na Piarsaigh), C O’Keeffe (St Vincent's), L McKeogh (Blackrock), E Buckley (Na Piarsaigh); M Scannell (Bishopstown), N O’Leary (Brian Dillon's), S K Brosnan (do); N Crean (St Vincent's) K Hickey (Blackrock); L Homan (St Vincent's), M Murphy (Blackrock), C Coleman (Na Piarsaigh); H Ryan (Blackrock), A O’Connor (St Vincent's), S Mills (Brian Dillons).

Subs: E Curtin for S Mills (40), M Coffey for C Coleman (54) 

ST FINBARR'S: C Hurley; S Punch, A Egan, G Cahalane; A Shannon, M Cahalane, A O’Neill; S McCartan, C Golden; K McCarthy, G O’Connor, H O’Leary; E Hurley, N Olden, O Cahalane.

Sub: E Wigginton Barrett for E Hurley (41).

Referee: David Hobbs (Ballyhea).

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